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What did the Government get right in the 2006 Energy White Paper?

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The pre-Christmas Energy White Paper released by the UK Government was the first such comprehensive outline of official policy to be produced since 2006. Much has been made of the projections it makes about the likely market for electricity in 15 years time.

I thought it worth returning to that earlier 2006 White Paper, just to see how much of what the Government had to say then has proved to be accurate.

Oh dear, oh dear. No suggestion that coal-fired electricity would have disappeared. No thoughts about the prevalence of offshore wind. Great confidence in the spread of CCS. An assumption that all AGR nuclear power stations would be gone, and that a ‘family’ of new nukes would be built. All very wrong indeed.

But most telling of all was the 2006 projection that total consumption of electricity would have increased in 2020 by a further 15%. Is that what occurred? Again, no, it isn’t. Whilst 2020 figures will have been artificially reduced by Covid-19, even going by the 2019 figures, , consumption had not risen, but FALLEN by a symmetrical 15% from 2006.

In other words, across a short period of just 13 years, the official Government electricity consumption forecasts have proved to be entirely wrong. And not by a small margin. They ended up being exaggerated by some 30% .

Make sure you remember that when you hear Tim Greatrex, the CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association, claiming that electricity sales are set to quadruple while he comments on the 2000 Energy White Paper live on BBC News. In your dreams, sonny, in your dreams.

This Gossage originally appeared in the January/February issue of Electrical Review.

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